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Milo, aka “Bane of Kings” reviews the Black-Library exclusive Veil of Darkness Audio Drama, set following the Ultramarines’ defeat at Damnos, detailing the consequences of Sicarius’ failure. This audio drama is written by Nick Kyme, and narrated by Gareth Armstrong, set in the Warhammer 40,000 Universe as part of the Space Marine Battles exclusive Audio Dramas.
“A great, first person-narrated take on one of the most iconic Space Marine characters, Cato Sicarius, and apart from a few flaws - Veil of Darkness stands along with Damnos as being another very strong instalment in Nick Kyme’s Ultramarine stories.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
++‘Life signs stable.’
‘He looks… troubled.’
‘Many going through sus-an membrane coma experience discomfort as part of the revivification process.’
‘Do you think he’s reliving what happened to him on Damnos?’
‘Perhaps, it would be his last memory before slipping into a coma.’
‘I cannot imagine that would be a pleasant experience. That thing very nearly cut him in half.’
‘He endures, and will rise again.’
‘You’re confident about that?’
‘And what about the state of his mind? Will that be intact?’
‘I… cannot answer.’++
I haven’t listened to an audio-drama in a long time. However, with a return to College, I needed something to keep me entertained on my long bus rides there and back, and to fill that void came Veil of Darkness, a companion piece to Nick Kyme’s Damnos, that wraps up loose ends. It shows how Cato Sicarius was affected by the failed defence of Damnos, as for the first time that we’ve seen him, he must deal with the fact that for once in his life, the Captain of the 2nd Company has not completed his task. As Warhammer 40,000 fans will likely know – Sicarius is a brash, headstrong leader with several victories to his belt along with a multitude of titles – viewed by some as heir to Marneus Calgar, Chapter Master of the Ultramarines. Of course, this does not fit well with Severus Agemman, the first Captain. Their rivalry is really brought to light in this book, as Kyme decides to tell the narrative from the first person point of view of Sicarius.
The first person perspective of Sicarius deals with two angles here – one one side, we get the entire narrative from his perspective, however – I felt that the end twist was all too predictable and clichéd to leave any real impact – and I was left finding the ending a little bit underwhelming, which was a shame – because for the first 90% or so of the audio-drama, the audio drama was executed really well. I loved the fact that the battle scenes that took place here happened inside the home of the Ultramarines Chapter themselves, and Nick Kyme really does make them feel vulnerable and isolated for the vast part of the novel. The audio drama shows just how deadly Necrons can be – and to me, they’re like the zombies of the Warhammer 40,000 Universe – if there’s something with the Necrons inside, It’s automatically going up my to-read pile. I’d love to see more crop up as enemies to various factions in future books, heck – I’d love to see them go up against Eldar. Now that would be awesome, as – correct me if I’m wrong – that there hasn’t been a book dedicated to an Eldar/Necron conflict from Black Library before, without any interference from the Imperium or another race.
However, the Necrons aren’t executed perfectly here. Sure, they do get some pretty awesome scenes and come across mostly as a formidable foe, but one problem that I had was the phrase “I am Doom,” repeated multiple times by the only Necron who has a speaking part. It’s meant to induce terror and fear inside the hearts of the Ultramarines under attack, but really comes across as being too cringe-worthy and cheesy. This is something that could have been avoided. The ending I’ve already touched upon was a let down as well, but those two problems are the only ones that I had with an otherwise really strong narrative. I loved the first person POV, which is something we’ve seen before in Kyme’s work - Vulkan Lives being the case here, and I felt that it was really executed well, giving us a great insight into Sicarius’ perspective.
The action is pretty brutal and pulled off well. If you’ve enjoyed Kyme’s works before then you’ll know he can write a good action scene, and whilst we don’t get to see any epic-scale battles featuring entire Chapters, the close-quarter combat allows for several strong sequences. The audio drama format really works well here, and although I don’t think Gareth Armstrong can pull of narration duties as well as others that we’ve heard in the past such as Toby Longworth, he certainly impresses, delivering a great voice for an Ultramarine Captain even when other elements aren’t as well performed.
The Audio Drama that I got for review as an MP3 file also came with multiple attachments – for anyone interested in the formatting of audio-dramas, or just wants to read the script as opposed to listen to the thing, then you can find the script attached. The cover art, which is pretty awesome – I might add, also comes as Wallpapers available for IPad/IPhone users as well as various Desktop formats. Another feature is a couple of images attached – one of a solitary Necron, and the other of Sicarius’ wargear. Whilst, script aside – they don’t provide any major new content, it’s a nice little bonus feature that you won’t get with a novel.
In conclusion therefore, a couple of flaws aside, Veil of Darkness is an audio-drama that’s mostly a lot of fun and if you’ve enjoyed Nick Kyme’s works in the past, then it’s certainly worth your time despite the couple of minor flaws that I had with this. Therefore, I can offer my recommendation. It’s a great look into the aftermath of Damnos, and if you want some pretty awesome close-combat action between Necrons and the Ultramarines in the Fortress of Hera itself, then Veil of Darkness will be worth checking out.